A former Los Angeles peace officer presents a collection of first-person accounts involving the use of lethal force.
Retired LA County sheriff’s deputy Rangel (The Red Dot Club, 2014, etc.) takes another trip into the trenches of law enforcement, focusing on officer-involved shootings. Like his previous book, this sequel combines Rangel’s reminiscences with those of other police officers who, in many cases, faced death at the end of a gun, and some suffered horrific gunshot injuries. “We have a conscience and a reverence for life,” Rangel writes, but he also notes that “We understand to win in a life and death struggle we have to be more violent than those assaulting us.” The no-holds-barred testimonies of the author’s fellow cops evocatively detail what an officer feels and experiences, moment by moment, while in the line of fire; “How else can you understand the horror unless I take you there all the way?” Rangel explains. One officer describes a bullet striking a suspect in the skull, “like his head was smoking a cigarette”; another remembers the sensations of being shot: “you take a match and drag it across the striker on the side of the box….It was a thousand mile an hour fast red-hot zip tearing through me.” Certain common themes emerge—how time slows to a crawl, even though most gunfights last only a few seconds, and the incandescent rage that officers feel after being wounded: “I was in disbelief and offended that he actually wanted to kill me,” remembers one, while another says, “My mind screamed, ‘HOW DARE YOU TRY AND TAKE ME AWAY FROM MY FAMILY!!!’ ” Some readers may find the book’s oral history format somewhat repetitive, but Rangel does succeed in portraying officers’ emotions in unimaginably stressful circumstances. “Society almost expects the cop to be schizophrenic,” says a former El Segundo, California, officer. “You are supposed to be a robot and not a robot. It is the job that takes the most varied sets of skills there is.”
A book that vividly captures the experiences of cops as they make life-or-death decisions.